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Covington neighbors help connect kids to the Wi-Fi they need for school

Hot spots part of $2.25M digital-equity project
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Posted at 5:55 PM, Oct 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-16 21:33:15-04

COVINGTON, Ky. — A Covington mom can finally send her children to school consistently, thanks to her neighbors.

Due to the pandemic, kids in Covington take online classes most of the week, which requires expensive Wi-Fi. More than half of Covington students don’t have reliable internet access, but that’s changing now.

Malaki and Stephen are 8 and 3 years old. They’re Kayla Reynolds' world. The single mom said it can be a struggle to afford the basics they need to go to school during a pandemic, like internet connection and a computer.

“Our lives have changed completely since this COVID,” Reynolds said. “You have to worry about rent, internet, some people have car payments, car insurance, your phone, which are a necessity now. So, it gets expensive.”

When Covington Mayor Joseph Meyer heard 59% of school children are without internet access, he came up with a plan to put Wi-Fi hot spots in random homes throughout the city, so kids in those neighborhoods can access the internet.

“The internet is as much an item of basic infrastructure as water and sewer, and everybody needs to have access to it,” Meyer said.

Covington is in the process of putting Wi-Fi hot spots in 116 homes. Some hot spots are already running in Latonia Terrace and City Heights, two affordable housing neighborhoods.

“So far we’ve gotten a very positive response,” Meyer said. “In their hearts, most Covington people are incredibly generous and willing to help their neighbors.”

Meyer said he used federal COVID-19 CARES Act dollars to fund the $2.25 million digital equity project, and some Covington businesses and a charity out of Houston, Texas, are helping give away 1,900 desktop computers to eligible families with kids in school. The city has already handed out hundreds.

“It works out perfectly,” Reynolds said.

Meyer said he’s noticed that parents are able to use the Wi-Fi to work from home or apply for jobs.

The city still needs more people to sign up to be a Wi-Fi hot spot home. To sign up, email Pete Bales at petebales@icloud.com.